European Week Against Cancer: 1 in 3 cancer patients are malnourished and need nutritional care
On the occasion of the European Week Against Cancer, the Medical Nutrition International Industry (MNI) reminds that 1 in 3 cancer patients are malnourished and calls to integrate screening for malnutrition and nutritional care in the cancer treatment pathway.
Malnutrition in cancer patients leads to muscle loss, organ damage, immune system disfunction, diminished tolerability of chemotherapy and increased mortality.
Despite efficient screening tools, cancer-related malnutrition often remains underdiagnosed or diagnosed too late. MNI calls for screening of cancer patients once the cancer diagnosis is established.
Timely nutritional interventions - early on during cancer treatment - can help patients better cope with the treatment, improve quality of life and lead to better health outcomes by improving muscle mass, and tolerance of anti-cancer therapies (as also indicated in a recent WHO report).
On the European Week Against Cancer, MNI calls on the EU institutions to adopt concrete measures in the Europe Beating Cancer Plan to address the nutritional needs of cancer patients:
- Screening and monitoring all cancer patients for malnutrition in a timely manner
- Implementing clinical guidelines on nutritional care in cancer treatment across Europe
- Establishing multidisciplinary care teams which include a dietitian or a qualified nutritionist
- Providing equal access to, and reimbursement of, medical nutrition
- Educating healthcare professionals and patient advocates on malnutrition
MNI contributed to the public consultation on the Europe's Beating Cancer Action Plan and invites further exchange on nutrition and cancer with the EU authorities, decision-makers of EU Member States, patient organisations and other relevant stakeholders, as consultation continues in 2020.